“Whip-smart” (Louise Penny) amateur sleuth Samantha Clair returns in A Howl of Wolves, a mystery from Judith Flanders, the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author of A Murder of Magpies.
Sam Clair figures she’ll be a good sport and spend a night out at the theater in support of her upstairs neighbors, who have small parts in a play in the West End. Boyfriend (a Scotland Yard detective) and all-round good sport Jake Field agrees to tag along to what is apparently an extra-bloody play filled with dramatic, gory deaths galore. So Sam expects an evening filled with faux fatalities. Until, that is, the curtain opens to the second act, revealing a dummy hanging from the rafters, who’s been made up to look suspiciously like Campbell Davison, the director of the production.
When Sam sees the horrified faces of the actors onstage, she realizes that this is indeed not a dummy, but Davison himself—and this death is not part of the show. Now everyone wants to know: who killed Campbell Davison? As Sam learns more about the murdered man, she discovers that he wasn’t all that well-liked amongst the cast and crew, so the suspect list grows. The show must go on—but Sam knows a murderer must be apprehended, so she sets out to find out what happened, and why.
New York Times bestselling author, Judith Flanders once again brilliantly fuses mystery with humor in the fourth installment of her critically acclaimed Sam Clair series.
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Fourth book in A Sam Clair Mystery series
A Howl of Wolves by Judith Flanders is the fourth installment in A Sam Clair Mystery series. Sam Clair and Jake Field are attending the opening night of The Spanish Tragedy in a West End theater. Their neighbor, Kay and her son, Bim are in the production. It is a macabre play with thirteen "deaths" and a lot of blood. In the beginning of the second half, the curtain pulls back to reveal the tenth faux body, and everyone is shocked when it is not the dummy. Someone has replaced the dummy with the play's director, Campbell Davison. Jake, as a detective with Scotland Yard, is on the case. But we all know that Sam cannot stay out of a mystery. The more Sam digs into Campbell Davison's life, the more secrets she discovers. He was not well liked by the cast and crew which adds to the suspect list. Sam must work through the clues to catch the evildoer especially after he ups the game by taking an innocent. Who is behind the murder of Campbell Davison? Can Sam and Jake catch the culprit before he takes another life?
A Howl of Wolves is written in the first person, so we experience the story through Sam's eyes. It was interesting to find out more about the life of a book editor. There is more to the job than reading manuscripts (wouldn't that be a dream job) and, like with many jobs, there are politics at play. I enjoyed the setting of London which gives this cozy a unique feel. I would recommend reading A Murder of Magpies before embarking on A Howl of Wolves. The author does not provide the necessary backstory on Sam. I like that Sam is a smart, generous woman with a natural curiosity. A Howl of Wolves is hard to get into (slow starter) and the pace does not improve. Judith Flanders is good at misdirection. She does send readers down a rabbit hole. Unfortunately, the misdirection only works if the reader has not solved the mystery first. I knew the who and why before I was a quarter of the way through the book (glaring clues). The investigation was not active. It involved more research than questioning. There are pages devoted to Sam's thoughts on the case and speculation (which I started skimming through). Bim was a cute character and the neighbors are lucky that Sam is a willing babysitter (not sure why, but she is). I am giving A Howl of Wolves 3 out of 5 stars. I am not the right audience for A Sam Clair Mystery series. I suggest you obtain a sample to see if it is the book for you (we all have different preferences).